We may be witnessing the age in which glossy magazines lose their luster.
Cosmopolitan is the magazine with the highest-single copy circulation in the business. Meaning: It flies off of newsstands. But according to new numbers from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, Cosmo's down 7.8% over the first half of the year.
According to the NY Times:
Single-copy sales suffer more than subscriptions during recessions, as people refrain from impulse buys, and higher unemployment means fewer commuters passing newsstands.
But AdWeek has a different take: Ladymags might be growing more and more irrelevant. Lucia Moses writes:
Consumers can now get a wealth of style news and advice from any number of Web sites, blogs and TV programs. A further erosion of the fashion magazine editor's dominance has come from lifestyle and celebrity magazines, which over the years have been busy rolling out their own fashion content.
As a result, fashion editors have made the dismal discovery that slaving long hours to put out a magazine — however great an issue it might be-simply isn't enough anymore.
In addition, those "celebrity magazines," like Ok!, Life & Style and In Touch, aren't without their own problems. As MediaWeek reports, Ok!'s circulation was down about 10% the first half of the year and In Touch was down about 16%.
Then there's the mystique and allure of the magazine culture itself. A magazine editor used to be a know-it-all, a couture connoisseur, declaring items "in" or "out." These days, "real people" marketing campaigns are popular; YouTube makeup tips go viral and fashionistas are more likely to copy something from The Sartorialist than from Vogue. As AdWeek's Lucia Moses points out:
Even the famously aloof Anna Wintour has been making herself more accessible for interviews […] On September 10, Wintour herself is expected to be out rubbing elbows with the hoi polloi at a Macy's pop-up store in (of all places) Queens.
Magazines can be great, when well done: Beautiful photography, intelligent writing, a focused, edited point of view. Maybe a drop in sales doesn't signal the end — but a new beginning, in which some of the current titles are re-evaluated. Lord knows we don't need another "how to touch his junk" story.
Women's Magazines Fare Poorly in Latest Circulation Figures [NY Times]
The Delicate Balance [AdWeek]
ABC: Fashion Titles Hardest Hit for Single-Copy Sales [MediaWeek]